Location: Lineville, Missouri
Time of Year: November 13, 2016
Weapon: Winchester Model 70 chambered in .270
In many states, deer season lasts from September or October into December and January. That means a lot of things, but it also means there will be plenty of days and weeks filled with warm weather. And while that might not be ideal conditions, you can still kill deer—even good ones like the stud buck Paul Sawyer of Whitetail Properties killed this season.
“I purchased this northern Missouri farm at the beginning of 2016,” Sawyer said. “I had four bucks on the hit-list which were all 5 years old or older. This buck was not on the hit-list [at the time]. I picked up the first set of pictures of this buck on November 6. The buck was immediately put on the hit-list based on its huge body size.”
This buck had it all. A super-wide rack. It sported a split G2, great mass and a huge body. That’s everything you can ask for in an old mature buck.
As has generally been the case the last few years, warm spells have seemed to have woven their way in the very fabric of the November calendar, which coincided with Paul’s Missouri rut hunt. The temperature was unseasonably warm and the clear skies allowed the sun to beat down hot and bright.
Paul was set up on the edge of a large food plot. It contained 5 acres of corn and 2 acres of brassicas. Their entry route was a long creek bottom. This helped conceal them from deer that were in the area — a key component of success in the deer woods.
“In my experience, at this time of the year, if you provide whitetails with the best food source available and set your stands to be the least intrusive possible you will attract large number of does,” Sawyer said. “Once you have the does coming to the plot it is only a matter of time before the hit-list bucks will show themselves or a doe will bring them to the plot.”
Things really started to heat up a couple days into the hunt. Paul was determined to kill one of the big bucks he had on camera and he was prepared to hunt until the season closed. But there was no need. It all came together much sooner than anticipated.
“I first spotted this mature buck at 4:25 p.m.,” Sawyer said. “After spotting him with my naked eye, I immediately knew this buck was a shooter buck. I just needed to figure out which buck it was. Through my binos I was able to ID the buck based on the trail camera photos. At this point, there was no question I would shoot the buck if given the opportunity. He was standing in corner of a ditch that borders the food plot to the west, tall CRP grass to the east and a timbered draw to the north.”
The buck just wouldn’t give him a shot. Too much cover and rolling terrain shielded the big brute. The estrus doe it was with didn’t help, either. Several minutes passed, during which the big deer chased off another mature buck, only to return to the estrus doe down in the ditch. The waiting game continued.
About 15 minutes later, the big buck eased out into the open and followed the doe into the cornfield. However, it slipped into the standing corn before Sawyer could get a shot off. It didn’t come back out until another mature buck — this time an 8-pointer — caught its attention. It bolted out of the standing corn to confront the intruder buck. That’s when Paul done his thing and sent a bullet hurling downrange. The buck ran about 40 yards and crashed. Sawyer then turned his attention to the doe and put her down, too.
“Everything worked just like we drew [it] up when we planted the food, planned the entrance and exit routes and placed the blinds,” Sawyer said. “I enjoy the planning for, the work toward holding and growing mature bucks as much if not more than killing [them].”
As Sawyer’s testimony shows, it’s possible to kill mature deer during warmer weather — even in the middle of the rut. You just have to adapt to the situation and hunt accordingly. Determine what food sources are driving the deer at the time, remember to keep water sources in mind, and always play your hand based on the phase (or lack thereof) the rut. Then put your time in and hope for the best.
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